‘A Star Is Born’ Again and Again

October 6, 2018

It seems like every generation needs its own rendition of A Star is Born; we can’t get enough of the timeless story! In 1937, the film starred the enchanting Janet Gaynor, and it was nominated in seven different categories at the 10th annual Academy Awards, winning the award for best original story. Produced by the legendary David O. Selznick and written, in part, by the incorrigible Dorothy Parker, one of the members of the Algonquin Round Table, the film garnered rave reviews and enormous excitement at the dawn of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

In 1954, Judy Garland took the mantle of the up-and-coming star and sang her heart out in the CinemaScope gem. Judy plays showgirl Esther Blodgett with the same heartfelt emotion and visceral intensity she brought to dimension-traveling Dorothy of Oz. This film is notably darker and more melancholy than its predecessor, but Garland’s tremendous singing and otherworldly voice lifts the production up to the mighty heavens. Many consider Judy to be one of the best singers of all time, and this film is certainly a testament to that sentiment, but it’s her excitement and empathy and her soulful presence that makes this performance so memorable and enduring.

There are many people out there who are not even aware of the history of A Star is Born, and it may be because they are absolutely transfixed with the 1976 tearjerker starring Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand. For these folks, the Frank Pierson classic is the be-all and end-all of the musical romantic drama. Whereas the earlier films focused on the rough-and-tumble world of Hollywood filmmaking and the struggle of up-and-coming actors, this production dealt with the lifestyle, the debauchery, and the soul-crushing nature of modern rock ’n’ roll music. Even though the reviews are mixed and it’s got a 32-percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film lives deep in the heart of its fans and devotees, and Barbra Streisand’s “Evergreen” (Love Theme from A Star is Born) became one of the biggest hits of her career and earned her both a Grammy for song of the year as well as an Oscar.

And now (drum roll please!) Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga star in the third American remake of the beloved story–A Star is Born for the 21st century! Once again focusing on the trials and tribulations of the world of music and the pitfalls of fame, the Bradley Cooper-helmed flick has movie audiences and Gaga fans salivating! Much of the film’s power and charm is driven by the soulful singing and passionate harmonizing of its two megastars. After Bradley attended a benefit concert in which Gaga performed, he asked to meet the notorious performance artist and unabashed provocateur. Of the encounter Stephanie, aka Lady Gaga, said, “Bradley came over to my house to meet me and it was really instantaneous. As soon as I saw his eyes, we had this instant connection.” And it wasn’t long before the two started singing together. Stephanie continues, “I started to play and he started to sing, and I stopped playing and I looked over at him and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Bradley, your voice. You have a voice, you can sing!’” For his part, Cooper says the best thing about the movie is that “I made a friend for life, and as great as this movie was, the thing that I think I’ll take forever is the relationship I have with [Stephanie].” Bradley co-wrote, directed, acted, sang and spent four years working on the latest version of A Star Is Born. The film opens this weekend at a theater near you!